About the Artist

Mallery Quetawki is an artist and mother of two from the Pueblo of Zuni in western New Mexico. She received her B.S. in biology with a minor in art studio from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Currently, Mallery serves as the Artist-in-Residence at the Community Environmental Health Program at the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy. She uses art to relay scientific ideas and research with the aim of increasing health literacy. Through a series of poignant paintings featured by the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Mallery skillfully infuses tribal symbolism to communicate the adverse effects of abandoned uranium mines on DNA and the immune system, thereby aiding public health outreach to Native American communities. According to Mallery, “I did not know the visual arts had a place alongside medicine, let alone scientific research. Now I champion this culturally relevant method as a way to communicate [with] and engage indigenous communities so that our centers are inclusive and equitable in their scientific research endeavors. I create the art in hopes that it also translates to policy change and changes in clinical practice for the betterment of indigenous communities affected by environmental health issues as well as other health concerns, such as cancer. My work utilizes not only traditional Native [American] symbolism but also the concepts surrounding traditional ecological knowledge systems. These systems within indigenous ways of knowing are not meant to be unidirectional when communicating to the communities but also as a way to educate non-native researchers and providers on how to ethically engage and build trusting relationships with our indigenous community partners.”

Mallery’s work is on display at several museums. Notably, her piece titled “Our Cultures, Our Languages” is on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York City as part of the “Grounded in Clay” exhibition, running until June of 2024. Additionally, her monumental large-scale mural “Morning Prayer” chronicles the history of the Zuni people from their creation to the present day and is a part of the permanent collection of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her oil painting symbolizing the profound connection between the Grand Canyon and Zuni culture is a notable inclusion in the Zuni Map Art Project, a traveling collaboration.

Mallery’s creations extend further, with a 12-piece pastel and ink set titled “What Makes a Zuni?” finding a permanent home at the Zuni Indian Health Service (IHS) in Blackrock, New Mexico. Her artistic vision also adorns the Ho’n A:wan Park in Zuni Pueblo through two painted murals, and her piece “Extraction and Remediation” travels with the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum of Contemporary Native Arts’ traveling exhibit “Exposure: Native Art and Political Ecology.”

To explore Mallery’s artwork online, visit wakelet.com/@cehp_artist and find her on Facebook at /MQzuniartist and on Instagram at M.Quetawki.Art. To experience Mallery’s art in an interactive Google Doodle, which kicked off Native American Heritage Month in November of 2021, visit google.com/doodles/celebrating-the-late-wewa.

On the Cover: “Adulthood”

A captivating addition to her portfolio, “Adulthood” is a pastel and ink portrait of a Zuni girl. It plays an integral part in the “What Makes a Zuni?” collection. It poignantly captures the Zuni tribe’s rich traditions and sacred rites of passage into adulthood, marked by profound ceremonies and ancestral teachings. These transformative experiences foster a deep sense of connection to the Zuni heritage and to nature, shaping a Zuni’s transition into adulthood. The following is a description of the artwork on the cover of this issue of Diabetes Care, as written by the artist, Mallery Quetawki:

Originally, this “What makes a Zuni?” series was addressing identity and how one cannot undo oneself if built with parts marked by our ancestors. I moved to the city for my education and was warned of losing my language and my culture. This series was my rebuttal of how it would not be possible to lose my identity with all the rich cultural traditions that created all of us. The series went on to manifest the dialogue between patient and provider about preventative and proactive health care methods. Unintentional, yet very needed, sets of discussions have since occurred in those hallways and within patient clinic areas that were initiated by the Zuni viewers. Does the heart really look that pretty? Does that mean it is healthy? How do I keep it looking pretty? These are some of the questions that were asked by patients at the Zuni IHS.

Native American communities face a higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes mellitus than the general U.S. population, presenting a significant public health challenge. While this disparity has been attributed to various factors, changes in traditional diets and behaviors have contributed greatly to the increase of diabetes in these individuals. Culturally sensitive health care approaches and community-based interventions, alongside efforts to preserve and promote the healthier traditional diets and lifestyles, are especially important for indigenous communities.

Through her artwork, adorned with rich cultural symbolism, Mallery Quetawki expresses reverence for the Zuni Pueblo culture in which she was raised and demonstrates an unwavering commitment to education and public health. Her works skillfully forge connections between Native American communities and Western science and medicine.

Mallery Quetawki

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